Thursday, February 2, 2012

County board to consider less expensive proposal for aviation industrial park. Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The Winnebago County Board will consider a smaller, less expensive proposal later this month to buy land for an aviation industrial park at the southeast corner of Wittman Regional Airport.

The county's Aviation Committee voted Wednesday to support a resolution to buy 80.9 acres of land from the Brennand family for a total price of $1.6 million, or about $19,000-per-acre.

The resolution to buy the land is being sent to the board almost a year after a resolution for a larger land buy was removed from the county board's agenda amid concerns it would not receive support of the three-fourths majority needed for it to pass.

Aviation Committee members say the combination of continued opposition from supervisors from the northern part of the county and the difficult threshold of securing three-fourths of the total board's support will make it unclear if the land deal will win approval when it comes up for a board vote later this month.

"I expect some pretty strong opposition from some county board members," Supervisor Shiloh Ramos said. "It will be a very, very close vote."

In recent years, County Board Chairman David Albrech earmarked $1 million in potential borrowing to fund the purchase and won approval last fall for a 2012 budget amendment that set aside $400,000 from the airport reserve fund. The city of Oshkosh and its industrial development arm, Chamco Inc., have agreed to extend utilities to the site and market it to aviation-related businesses after the county buys the land.

But Albrecht has not been able to generate support from many Neenah, Menasha and rural county supervisors who say the project only benefits Oshkosh. Albrecht got the resolution to purchase the land tabled during a county board meeting in April when it was clear that resolution — to purchase 200-plus acres for $3.2 million — would not have the support needed to pass.

Aviation Committee members said Wednesday that the industrial park project would create jobs and property value that would benefit the entire county.

"This is something we need. We'll come out ahead on this," Supervisor Robert Warnke said. "And I'm not even mentioning what bringing more industry to this airport will do for the entire county. Not just Oshkosh, but the whole county."

On Wednesday, Airport Director Peter Moll reiterated the need for additional, developable land on the airport so he can offer something to companies that call asking about development opportunities. At present, the airport only has 7 acres of non-contiguous land available for development.

"I wouldn't have to just tell them 'No' anymore," Moll said. "It's frustrating."

Ramos said he supports the efforts to acquire land, owned by members of the Brennand family, but abstained from voting on Wednesday's resolution until he could see projections for job and tax base creation. He said he wants to be sure of the impact before voting in support of the resolution since the Brennand family's $19,000-per-acre asking price exceeds appraised values of between $12,000 and $15,000-per-acre.

"The offer is above the appraised value, but it's still better than the original offering price," Ramos said. "I support the land purchase but if we're paying above appraisal, I want to make sure the returns are there."

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